2020 Great Immigrants Recipient

Luciana Borio
VP, In-Q-Tel; Former Director, Medical and Biodefense Preparedness, National Security Council
Born in:
Brazil

Luciana Borio was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, into a family of Sicilian ancestry. She earned her medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in 1996. Borio completed her residency at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, going on to complete a combined fellowship in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University and critical care medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Borio joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of drugs, biological products, and medical devices, in 2008 as a medical officer. From 2015 to 2017, her FDA posts included assistant commissioner for counterterrorism and emerging threats and acting chief scientist. Borio was vital to developing and executing the agency’s medical countermeasures and public health responses to the 2009–10 H1N1 flu pandemic, the 2014–16 Ebola outbreak, and the 2015–16 Zika outbreak. From 2017 to 2019, Borio was the director for medical and biodefense preparedness policy at the National Security Council (NSC), and served as a member of the NSC’s pandemic response team until 2018. That same year, Borio warned that influenza “represents both a health security and a national security threat” for which the United States was unprepared to “respond with the speed that we need to.” Borio helped initiate the U.S. government’s National Influenza Vaccine Modernization Strategy 2020–2030, published in 2020.

Borio is currently vice president of technical staff at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit venture capital firm focused on the delivery of innovative technologies to national security agencies.

Although she is no longer with the government, Borio has been an active public health advocate during COVID-19, and continues to practice medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Borio has written and cowritten a number of op-eds, as well as a report, with former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb and others, offering guidance to decision makers and the public around COVID-19. Expanding testing, following strict social distancing, and supporting promising therapeutics are among the measures that she has emphasized. Borio sees sharing her expertise as her way of trying to “make a difference wherever I am.” As she put it in a 2015 TEDx Talk, “I’ve dedicated my career to preparing for epidemics.”